jabiru crash jabiru crash jabiru crash jabiruy crash jabiru crash jabiru crash

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Presented as a Public Air Safety Service by Carl Holden

Read the story of the ultralight plane crash that changed my life.
I am one of the original founders of the recreational / ultralight / microlight aircraft flight in Australia.
In 2001 I flew in a Jabiru aircraft, re-assured by representations made by the pilot and manufacturer. We crashed on climb-out due Jabiru engine failure. There has never been a crash investigation of who, why and how this air crash occurred, nor the into the circumstances or representations made. There have been other Jabiru aircraft plane crashes after mine in 2001 that should have been prevented.

"The case of the missing engine report " - Information that may be vital to the safety of your next flight, or
If I knew then (2001) what I know now (2011) ......
or How to lose your immediate Flying Career, and Income (and savings), due to the negligence of others. Don't let this happen to you !
(despite the Jabiru being insured I have never received any help, assistance or compensation, financial or otherwise)

Requests for information from intended and actual Jabiru Aircraft Pilots and Passengers and those using their Engines welcomed.

email with comments, details of missing evidence or safety tips for fellow Pilots etc. click on this link

I am available to assist others recover from the Trauma of an air crash - to contact me please email

Latest Update: Jabiru Crash sites photos at Wedderburn NSW here

Manufacturer's claims at the time - Jabiru Aircraft Flyer sent to Australian Flying Magazine

Jabiru Crash in USA - 2008
(not my crash - presented here in the public interest)

LATEST NEWS UPDATE - Jan 2009 - US Jabiru Crash - from jabiru-aircraft.com

Federal lawsuit filed against JabiruUSA and Jabiru Aircraft Pty Ltd
"The lawsuit is based on several principles some of which are product liability and gross negligence.
You can look up the Case No 4:08-cv-44 if you're interested."

Read it all - "J400 CRASHES AT END OF RUNWAY - BRAKE FAILURE" - for more information
"......Actually, I didn't know that the brakes were redesigned. There was no notice anywhere."

jabiru crash usa 1

See "DEFECTS AND LIABILITY LAWS - Australia and USA" further down the page

Checkout the latest UPDATES and Jabiru ENGINE SECTIONS below !

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My Jabiru Plane Crash in Australia - 2001

Date of crash: 14th November 2001
Location: Wedderburn, NSW AUSTRALIA
Cause: complete engine failure on Climb-Out
Pilot/Maintainer: Ron Bertram (LAME ? - see below)
Passenger: Carl Holden
Insurer: Booker International (purchased by Vero Insurance in 2004)
Insurance Broker: Chamberlain Knights (now OAMPS)
Engine type: Jabiru 2200
Engine Type "J" - CASA Certified
Serial number: 19

Cause of Engine Failure: not released by Jabiru Aircraft (despite repeated requests) to date (Feb 2011) - suspect No.4 piston failure

"All information to do with the safety of flight must be shared freely and openly."
"How would you feel if you knew something, that was covered-up, that later hurt or killed other people, or more close to home, a close friend or your brother, sister, son or daughter ?"

Read the (edited) story on the crash here - CASA flight Safety magazine Jan-Feb 2002

more info - see below....

jabiru crash, engine failure
jabiru crash, engine failure

This is the story of my (Carl Holden's) flight and crash in a Jabiru Aircraft from Wedderburn in 2001. The aircraft was claimed to be "fully GA certified" and had "just come off the GA register. Ron Bertram was the Pilot and claimed to be the Maintainer.

Bertram claimed he was a LAME (Licensed Aircraft Mechanical Engineer) * see below.

The wreckage was taken to the Jabiru factory "very shortly" after the crash - without my knowledge. The engine strip-down inspection was performed at the Jabiru factory. To date - over 7 years later, despite many requests, the report of the engine strip-down has never been released to me by Jabiru or any other party. And I am still waiting. Why ?

Can anyone shed any light on what caused this engine to fail ?

* Bertram died in 2006, test-flying a Lancair he had just repaired (engine failure on climb-out). By 2007, following years of obstruction, I was able to gain access to his CASA licensing records - and there is no record of him having any maintenance qualifications. Read the ATSB report here - VH-ZNZ Lancair crash (pdf)

If anyone has any information to substantiate Bertram's claims he was a C-130 Pilot in the 'first' Gulf War, or a 'Caribou Pilot', please let us know.

Bertram was at the time of his crash, the President of AOPA Australia.

UPDATES December 2008

Bogus Qantas engineer sent to jail

Three times in 2006 I asked CASA CEO Bruce Byron a series of safety related questions, in writing, relating to the 2001 crash and the 2006 crash - and he has refused to answer since. Why ?
latest: Bruce Byron to step down as CASA CEO

AOPA's preferred insurer in the 1990's was Booker International.
AOPA have refused repeated requests for assistance with this matter. Why ?

Jabiru Aircraft has consistently refused to supply any information on the cause of the Engine failure, despite repeated written requests. Why ?

CAMIT (the engine builder) has refused to supply any information on the cause of the Engine failure, despite written requests. Why ?


CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) South Africa report/expert opinion - July 2004 (pdf)
(I wish I had been informed of this prior to the flight ! - Carl Holden)
"Jabiru engine cylinders with engine serial numbers up to 644, have smaller cooling fins which causes the cylinders to overheat and the engines to fail.
Engines with serial numbers from 645 upwards are fitted with re-designed cylinders with larger cooling fins which results in improved cooling"
Where's the AD, AN, Service Bulletin, Defect Notice or any relevant documentation from the Manufacturer or CASA, as it is a CASA certified engine for "VH" aircraft use. Why ?

Van's forum pages - Support problem for Jabiru engines 1

Van's forum pages - Support problem for Jabiru engines 2

Jabiru crash, engine failure, Azores

MrSoaring - News - July 2002 (link)
Note comments "....Unfortunately Jabiru have had a bit of a bad name causedby some of the earlier engines with the small heads and no oil cooler. Therehas been very little trouble with J2200 sr no 710 and up as this engine has thelarge heads, oil cooler and larger diameter Bing carburettor."

EAA Sport Pilot article by Dave Jalanti - Flying behind a Jabiru engine - July 2005 (pdf)
Note comments Page 57 - "Unfortunately, the cylinder head temperatures went slightly higher than 385°F, high enough to warp the two rear cylinder heads. After this flight, I learned from Jabiru USA that overheating cylinder heads had become enough of an issue that Jabiru had redesigned the heads, adding more and larger cooling fins, and had changed the shape of the combustion chamber. It also redesigned the cooling ducts to improve the airflow, particularly over the rear cylinders."

(In the USA is it not a requirement for Manufacturers/Importers to inform Pilots of "Known Defects" ?)
Dave Jalanti's engine number is quoted as "478"

UK AAIB (Aircraft Accident Investigation Board) report on G-TUBB Engine Failure - 10/2002 (pdf)
Summary - "The engine suffered a catastrophic failure due to the number three cylinder exhaust valve becoming stuck open in the valve guide. The piston then struck the valve, causing the valve head to detach. This lead to the destruction of the piston and bending of the connecting rod. Following the piston break up the engine seized. The exhaust valve became jammed due to excess carbon build up as a result of overheating of the number three cylinder."

(In the UK is it not a requirement for Manufacturers/Importers to inform Pilots of "Known Defects" ?)


MASQUITO (Belgium) Helicopter development
Progress Report. November 2001 - July 2002. More engine problems.....
"... Jabiru engine suddenly stopped without warning during one of the ground test runs. When we tried to start the engine again, the starter was not capable of turning over the engine. Further inspection showed that the engine crankshaft could not be rotated." " If the crankshaft wouldn't turn, then it was indicative that something serious had gone wrong. When the engine was dismantled, we found one of the pistons had broken into several pieces, and the crankshaft and all its' supporting bearings had worn very badly. A full report with accompanying pictures was sent to the UK CAA and to the Australian manufacturer Jabiru."

"The most likely explanation (according to Jabiru) was that our piston shattered because the gudgeon pin (the round tube joining the conrod to the piston) was no longer held in its' correct position and worked its way completely to one side of the cylinder wall. In this position, only one part of the piston was being supported by the gudgeon pin and due to the high unsymmetrical forces, the piston broke."

  masquito helicopter jabiru engine

Photo of Jabiru Engine installation - from Pacific Flyer Magazine August 1998

Note: Rocker Covers - Engine is 2200 early model (like the one I flew behind)



masquito jabiru engine broken pistons

Picture from the Masquito website 2002 - showing the broken pistons

Masquito's comment: "Piston broke into several parts, conrod bent and cylinder wall damaged."



According to a later report from the Insurance company, they say it was a Piston Failure, no. 4 Cylinder, that caused the engine to fail and they did not investigate further. In 2007 I was able to get the photos from the Photographer for News Ltd (Robert Pozo) that visited the crash site on the afternoon it happened.

I had ordered the engine be sent to CASA or ATSB in Canberra for a totally independent strip-down analysis. My instructions were not followed. Why ?

  jabiru engine that failed nearly killing me

Courtesy News Photgrapher Robert Pozo, a close up of his photo of the engine in the wreckage.

Note: Distinctive Rocker Covers.

Tops of Cylinder Heads covered by cooling air shroud.




jabiru engine failure enlargement

This is an enlargement of part of the above Photo. Is the squarish shape of the visible lower part of the Cylinder Head the version below or was it some publicly unknown experimental "cross-over" model - as the next known model of Head has a markedly changed Rocker Cover and attachment system. Who knows ?

This engine was supposedly CASA certified.



masquito engine that failed

The Enlargement of the picture from the Masquito article Pacific Flyer of the Jabiru engine that ultimately failed..

Note: Cylinder Heads and Rocker Covers.



80HP early Jabiru Engine

The Jabiru UK website from 1997 shows an engine promoted as "80HP".

Note: Cylinder Heads and Rocker Covers.

I was told the the Jabiru Aircraft I crashed in had "the latest engine and modifications".
Now with the benfit of hard experince and hindsight, I would ask and check exactly what version of what components have been used and compare it to the latest list - which could be assumed to give the most reliable engine. Where is such a list ? I found this document on an AvidFlyer website, from 2006, written by Kerry Owen, compiled from a Jabiru Parts Manual from the year 2000. Click here to view (word doc)

ENGINE PICTURES - note the Cylinder Head changes

View CASA's Engine Type Approval Certificate here (pdf)
Note: Engine certified by CASA for (max) 55.5 Horsepower @ 3100 RPM

  jabiru crash model



Publicised as CASA certified

Published Specs: 80 HP @ 3300 RPM

  1999 jabiru 2200 engine



especially to Cooling Fins, and Rocker Covers.

CASA Certification unchanged

jabiru later version



especially to Cooling Fins

Publicised now as 85 HP @ 3300 RPM

CASA Certification unchanged

latest jabiru engine



Publicised as 85HP @ 3300 RPM

CASA Certified as 60Kw = 80 HP

CASA Certificate (click here - pdf)

Web Conversion Chart (click here to open)

CASA PROPELLER CERTIFICATION - 2008 (pdf) Note: limited to 60Kw/80HP

JABIRU USED IN G.A. SCHOOL - so must be fully CAA/CASA Certified (like Cessna or Piper) ??

From 1997, a Jabiru Aircraft Flyer sent to Australian Flying whilst I was writing the "Sport Flying" Column. Jabiru clearly imply their aircraft are "Certified" and can be also used in the "VH" version by General Aviation Flying Schools. I was quite clearly told by CAA/CASA in the 1990's that GA Schools can not use Homebuilt or Kit Built Aircraft. Can only use factory built and must be CAA/CASA Certified. So in the 1990's Jabiru's must have been CAA/CASA "Certified". Anyone who can provide evidence that this was a correct assumption, please let me know.

Here's a photo of VH-NQA in flight in the 1990's.
VH-NQA was used by the North Queensland Aero Club, in Cairns.

  vh nqa north queensland aero club  


email with your question or experience for us to put on our website - click on this link


Information on FAA Requirement to report Defects in Aircraft and Strict Product Liability

CASA Requirement to report Defects in Aircraft - Criminal penalties

The website is a "work in progress" - and will be adding more content shortly (JAN2009).

  ...another Jabiru engine failure story - click on the centre of the video:  


email with comments or missing evidence etc. click on this link



Presented as a Public Air Safety Service by Carl Holden

Work Wanted: If anyone needs a very experienced, highly qualified Recreational Flight Instructor - please contact me ASAP

Thankyou for visiting the website dedicated to aviation safety, pilot safety and freedom from unecessary plane crashes and traumatic events.If you are searching aircraft for sale, ask questions, demand hard proof to back up other people's and manufacturers' claims.
From my experiences so far, Recreational Aircraft, Ultralight Aircraft, Microlight Aircraft are as safe as the human being's integrity who builds, maintains, owns or flies one. I welcome constructive feedback and comments.

please email Carl Holden via this link

Latest Update: Jabiru Crash sites photos at Wedderburn NSW here

Manufacturer's claims at the time - Jabiru Aircraft Flyer sent to Australian Flying Magazine

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